Daughters of the Confederacy asks for return of Leesburg Confederate monument

The Loudoun Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which built the statue of a Confederate soldier on courthouse grounds in downtown Leesburg, has asked Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall to let the chapter take it back.

Under a Virginia law taking effect Wednesday, July 1, localities in Virginia can decide whether to remove Confederate statues. Randall had planned to begin that process this week.

“The Daughters are saying they’d like to retrieve their statue,” Randall told WTOP.

“Dr. King said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, and I believe since 1908 that statue has been sitting on public courthouse grounds, and it should not have been.”

In a letter dated June 26, 2020, Stephen Price, the attorney for the group, said, “In recent public statements by the members of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, a clear majority has expressed their support for its removal.”

“Of the nine board members, seven believe that it should be moved off the courthouse property,” Randall said. “So, it wasn’t without some understanding on their part that the statue was going to come down, that they stepped forward and said they would take it back.”

Randall had told WTOP she planned to ask the board on July 7 to hold a public hearing on the future of the monument. Now, Randall said she will ask the board to allow the group to remove its statue.

“We don’t know yet how that’s going to look, what day, the cost of removing it, but we know that they have every right to take it back,” Randall said.

Price’s letter included minutes from past meetings of the Board of Supervisors. In an entry from 1906, the board appropriated $500 to assist the local Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy “in paying for the erection of a monument to the memory of the Confederate Soldiers of Loudoun County who served in the Confederate Army.”

The letter comes amid introspection about America’s racial past. The Black Lives Matter movement — fueled by the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans — has led to the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and other symbols of racism.

Randall is pleased the statue will be removed “in an orderly fashion,” rather than being torn down or vandalized.

“I believe the people who have been talking about, and fighting against this statue being on courthouse grounds for generations have the right to see the process play out,” said Randall, who began arguing for the statue’s removal two decades ago.

“Even though the Daughters have asked for it back, it will still come to the board room, there will still be a vote, and there will still be time for people to come and say how this made them feel in this moment we are living through right now,” Randall said.

Price did not immediately respond to a WTOP request for an interview with the leaders of the Confederate group.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the attorney representing United Daughters of the Confederacy.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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